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Opinion: Peace of mind

A retail display is not just for Christmas, writes Dan Williams founder and managing director at 100% Group

The festive season, for many in the retail industry, is the busiest time of the year. For brands with displays in numerous stores around the country, or even the globe, making sure that all retail installations stay looking as spick and span as they did on day one can seem impossible – especially once your Christmas campaigns have been rolled out and it’s time to move on to the next thing!

However, effectively maintaining your displays is worth the effort. Of the 200 retail professionals we surveyed, 96% agreed that retail displays are an important part of the customer experience, and respondents estimated that a well-maintained display could boost sales by an average of 30%. But how can you make sure that you’re providing a consistent customer experience all the time across all of your stores? Here are a few important considerations to take into account to maximise sales over Christmas and beyond.

Sustainability-centric approach
While businesses should be addressing sustainability and introducing initiatives as a vital part of their corporate-social responsibility, brands can also not afford to ignore the sales opportunities that a sustainability-centric approach offers. Our research found that 86% of retail professionals believe sustainability is important to customers when making a purchase decision. And although implementing a sustainability programme around retail displays can seem expensive – incurring an average 19% rise in costs initially – doing so can have a positive impact on sales, resulting in an average 23% increase. 

Maintenance is also hugely important in ensuring that retail displays are as sustainable as possible; helping to prolong the lifespan of fixtures and fittings so they can be used in-store for longer. If they’re kept in the best possible condition, they may be able to be reused or redeployed elsewhere to promote a circular economy.

Brands need to communicate that sustainability is an issue they take seriously and share their efforts and successes to demonstrate to customers that it’s a key focus throughout the value chain. 

Customer-safe displays
Health and safety should always be a priority for retail displays, but this is especially important through the festive period when footfall typically increases. There are a number of considerations to be taken into account through the design and installation stages, and these should be constantly addressed and revisited throughout the display’s lifecycle to ensure the safety of customers and staff in the retail environment.

“Brands need to communicate that sustainability is an issue they take seriously and share their efforts and successes to demonstrate to customers that it’s a key focus throughout the value chain”

It’s important to ensure that display structures are stable and that any wall props are mounted correctly, as general wear and tear can cause them to become loose or unbalanced, running the risk of them collapsing and injuring someone or destroying products. This links to the importance of correctly stacked goods and ensuring that shelves and racks are not overloaded. It’s also vital to regularly monitor the display to ensure that display technology and products are in full working order and that wires and bulbs aren’t exposed.

Although these considerations may seem incredibly simple, they are often overlooked once the display has been implemented. However, putting a simple checklist in place can help to ensure that they receive appropriate attention. While retailers are responsible for the monitoring of day-to-day in-store safety, a proactive schedule of store visits with your maintenance provider can give you extra peace of mind that your display is consistently meeting all the necessary health and safety requirements and not posing a danger to staff or customers, and consequently, your reputation.

Setting maintenance expectations
Maintaining your in-store presence over the busy Christmas period can be challenging, but by outsourcing the responsibility to a specialist, you can rest assured that your displays are always in full working order and looking their best to showcase your brand and products in the best possible light.

The best approach is to agree a maintenance plan with your provider upfront so you know what support you can expect. A vital part of this is defining a clear helpdesk process, outlining how issues are going to be flagged, recorded and addressed, and within this, you may also want to consider setting SLAs around response and resolution time. These should also take the Christmas and New Year period into account, where working hours may differ, so you always have a transparent view of what support can be accessed, when and how. 

When researching potential maintenance services and providers, it’s also advisable to enquire about their reporting systems and processes. It’s impossible to have full oversight of all your displays in all the different stores at all times, but comprehensive reporting provides valuable insight to support the effective management of your display estate.

A huge amount of time, effort and investment goes into creating retail displays, so it’s important that they continually do your brand justice and drive the returns you expect from them. They need to withstand increased footfall through the festive period to ensure they perform through the Christmas period, Boxing Day sales, and well into the new year. A comprehensive maintenance contract can provide this peace of mind so you can be confident that your displays are doing the legwork.